Marshall Weinstein, known to club-goers and music aficionados as DJ Martial, is having trouble getting used to the deep freeze New York currently finds itself mired in. When I reach him by phone at his Brooklyn apartment, he’s just returned from a work trip to the Caribbean, a difference of 1,650 miles and five layers of clothing. "I was DJing in St. Maarten in 85 degree weather and here it’s 10 degrees outside," he says with a laugh. "The airplane wouldn’t even go to the gate because it was frozen, they had to bus us in. It was crazy." He won’t be frozen for long, as he’ll soon be on his way to balmy New Orleans for a handful of gigs centered around the upcoming Super Bowl. We caught up with him during his brief layover to find out how he got started, his favorite clubs to perform in, and his secret for de-stressing fast.
Where are you from, and what kind of stuff were you into as a kid that led you to being a DJ?
I went to elementary, middle, and high school outside of Boston. I started DJing in 1993 when my older brother introduced me to underground electronic rave music. I was 13 at the time. When I graduated from high school I moved to New York City. My mom is originally from Long Island and my dad is originally from Coney Island, Brooklyn, and my whole family lived in the New York area, so it was a no-brainer. I went to Hofstra and DJ’d my way through college. I’ve been actively in the New York music scene since 1998 when I came to the city.
So, Yankees or Red Sox?
I’m definitely an all-Boston sports fan. It’s a little upsetting with the Patriots losing recently, however now that I’ve got some gigs at the Super Bowl I can focus on work and not sports.
How did you start DJing in the city?
When I got to New York, I realized that I had access to the best city in the world that had the best music. At Hofstra I was on the radio, and I majored in television video production communications, so music was always a part of my life. Whether it was in the studio working with audio tracks or video, or at the radio station on the air, all I did was music music music. When I got out of college, I was still DJing nights and weekends. With my full-time job – I worked at MTV and in the industry – eventually it steamrolled. I was picking up more and more gigs to the point where I was burning the candle at both ends. I couldn’t be in a television studio at six o’clock in the morning when I got out of a club at four.
So you decided to make a change?
In 2006 I realized that I’ve been DJing for 13 years, but I had a career in television. I said to myself, I’ve always wanted to be a full-time DJ. I had an opportunity to work overseas for three months as a DJ, so I sat down with my boss at the time and explained it to him. He said, you’ve got a lot of passion for this, so go for it. I put in my two weeks, it was December 2006, and since then I’ve been a full-time DJ. I also do a lot of private events, not just in New York but around the nation and internationally, and I book DJs at clubs and events through my company, SET Artist Management.
Is that when the momentum started to build?
Once you do one event it leads to another. Being humble and staying true and smiling and constantly following up with everybody, it leads to an escalation. Since then I’ve never looked back or second-guessed myself on leaving a career that I went to college for.
What kind of clubs were you playing at the time?
When I went overseas I was working in Israel, in various places in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Haifa. Clubs like Shalvata, Lima Lima, City Hall, Layla Bar. Then I came back to New York and gigs started to add up, residencies here and there. I’ve worked at clubs like Beauty & Essex, WiP, Double Seven, Top of the Standard, Yotel, Stash, STK Midtown, Gansevoort Park, Bounce Sporting Club on 21st, Haven Rooftop.
How would you describe your musical style, and how do you adjust that for the crowd and event?
I’m a 100% open format DJ. I love all types of music and I’m not afraid to drop anything. It’s not about what you play, it’s about what you follow up with. You can drop a song from the ’70s and people start to get into it. For the next song, whether it’s a huge club banger or a perfect smooth transition, it can make the song before it that much better. My outgoing personality shines through my beats, like a sixth sense. I bleed hip-hop, ’80s, rock, house, and still stay true to the music and dance floor because I keep those classics in the mix. And I have no problem playing the most current, hottest tracks, to do whatever I can to keep the dance floor packed till dawn.
So you believe that the context is important, it’s not about any one individual song, it’s about the whole set and the vibe you’re putting out there?
Yes. It’s not like I’ll play one ’80s song, one ’70s song, one rock song, one hip-hop song. Then it can be a bit ADD. It’s more about the way you blend different genres of music together throughout the night to build that crescendo. You finish the night and people look at their watches and they can’t believe it’s four in morning and the club’s still packed.
What do you have going on with the Super Bowl?
I’m down in New Orleans Thursday through Monday. I’m working at the NFL House, doing parties Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, and I’m doing a number of parties for CBS, including pre-game and post-game on Sunday. The two CBS parties I’m involved in, there’s one Friday night at the Contemporary Arts Center, and Saturday I’m doing the party at Generations Hall with a live performance from Trombone Shorty, who is a really talented local guy who does huge live performances with a big band feel.
What else do you have coming up?
I’ll be DJing in the number one college town, Morgantown, West Virginia, at a place called Rock Top. I’ll be in Boston. I do a lot of private events for BlackBerry, since I’m the official Latin American BlackBerry DJ. In the summer I’ll probably have a lot of Hamptons gigs.
What clubs do you like to play in?
I like being close to the crowd. Mid-sized clubs work really well. I love working at Stash on 14th Street. Beauty and Essex is a great place to feel the energy and the vibe, and Double Seven is another spot where you’re right in the mix.
What’s on your iPod?
I have a series of playlists for all the new stuff I need to hear. There’s never enough time in the day to hear all the new songs. But when I’m relaxing, I love old school music. Old classic rock, ’70s, ’80s, things like that.
What do you do to relax and de-stress?
I love going to the Russian and Turkish Baths. Sometimes I just need a good shvitz. And I’m not afraid of the cold pool either.
What advice do you have for aspiring DJs?
Be as musically knowledgeable as possible. Everybody knows that electronic music is huge right now, techno, house, dubstep, but the more versatile you are, the more gigs you can play. If you want to specifically become an electronic music DJ, and that’s your passion, go for it, but if you’re trying to get noticed and get gigs and get experienced, the more versatile you are, the more avenues you have. Stay humble and keep in mind there’s a big line between work and play. Keep a clear mind.
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